In 2009, the whole world was panic over H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu). The virus originated in Mexico and has spread rapidly around the world due to high level of air travel. The virus was so infectious that the WHO declared an H1N1 pandemic, moving the alert level to phase 6, marking the first global pandemic since the 1968 Hong Kong flu.
How severe was the situation? Severe enough for President Barrack Obama to declare it as national emergency. Severe enough to infect 213 countries and kill 17,000 people during its course. I just couldn’t imagine how terrorized the Mexican were during the outbreak. Did they still have mood for tequila?
On the other half of the world, Japan has closed all 270 high schools and 526 junior high schools in Osaka Prefecture for 7 days after the outbreak was reported, as a control measure to limit the spread of the disease. I think the mothers of the infected children were probably very stressed and anxious over this new virus of unknown potential at that time.
If you were the mother (or father) of a H1N1 infected child, what should you do? If you siblings were infected, how would you protect yourself from contracting the disease? If your friends were sick because of highly infectious influenza virus (be it swine flu, bird flue or SARS), is it advisable to pay them a visit ?
These are the questions that we are going to explore in the next few paragraphs.
According to my Boss, there are 4 principles most worth mentioning that can prevent the spread of the pandemic influenza.
First is Social Distancing, which means don’t mix with other people. Minimise gathering with friends, unless necessary. Sounds like a good opportunity to mingle with people that matter the most – the family! How about dating activities with boyfriend/ girlfriend? My Boss says “Keep a distance, at least an arm’s length from each other”. Here is an illustration. Inform your son about that.
(this is almost two arms’ length, meeting the standard of my Boss)
The second principle is called Respiratory Etiquette. What a big word! It basically means that you should cover your coughs and sneezes. Why? Here is some interesting fact: 40,000 droplets can be produced by a sneeze, released at the speed about 50km/h. Imagine the number of influenza virus you contribute to the breathing air if you don’t cover. So, please tell your daughter, for both health and manner purpose, use a handkerchief to cover the mouth, or, turn her head to her shirt sleeve to cover her nose and mouth. Here is an example.
The third principle is Hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. No wonder the Malaysia Minister of Health (Liow Tiong Lai) kept telling me to wash hand during the H1N1 pandemic! Even the Minister also listened to my Boss!
The forth principle is Household Ventilation. Allow outside air to enter the room so as to dilute the viral concentration in the room. After the air carries the virus out of the room, the UV light from the sun may be able to destroy the virus. Decreased humidity inside the room as a result of ventilation also reduce the life-span of the viral particle in the air.
I have presented to you 4 principles to prevent influenza pandemic. Sounds easy, isn’t it? I hope you understand and share this knowledge with your neighbours and friends. When your family is protected from influenza, the mummy would be happy!
Almost forget to introduce about my Boss, the highest authority in Pandemic Influenza Prevention – World Health Organization (WHO).